This past week, the people of Linden remembered the three men who were gunned down by police as Lindeners protested the attempt by the government to remove a subsidy on electricity to the community. Although seven years have passed, the memory of that incident is still fresh on the minds of those of us who were on Linden bridge and its environs on that fateful day.The protestors included women and children who were carrying out their democratic and God-given right to peaceably resist government action with which they disagreed. The then PPP regime did what authoritarian governments often do—they permitted the guns of the state to be turned on innocent citizens.
This coming Wednesday, WPA will remember those martyrs with a Community Meeting and Reasoning in Linden. The meeting is part of the WPA intervention aimed at engaging communities in “Reasonings” in relation to the upcoming elections.
Having endorsed the re-election of the Coalition, we feel it is imperative that our party engages the nation in a frank discussion of the Coalition’s tenure in office, and why it should be trusted to take Guyana into the next defining moment in our country’s history. These “Reasonings” are more than electioneering—they are groundings in the tradition of the WPA which are aimed at teaching and learning from our people.
Linden holds a special place in the long history of the WPA. From the ASCRIA strikes of the late 1960s and the RILA strikes of the early 1970s to the Food Rebellion of the 1980s, WPA has been part of the political developments in that unique community.
Our brother and teacher Walter Rodney spent a lot of his political time and energies teaching, learning from and mobilizing Linden, which he referred to as the cradle of the Guyanese working class. Indeed, Linden is the microcosm of Guyana, as most of its residents can trace their origins to the various communities on the coastland. The spirit of defiance and resistance that still exists in that community has earned it a distinct place in the Guyanese socio-political tapestry.
So, I am going to Linden this Wednesday as part of the WPA’s team to offer my contribution to the “Reasonings,” which will be held at London’s Residence (Next to L & L Restaurant) on Greenheart Street, Linden, beginning at 5pm.
We are aware that some supporters are unhappy with the government’s performance and want assurances that should they again vote for the Coalition, there would be a marked improvement. In meetings at Buxton and Beterverwagting that message rang through during the time for comments from the audience. Despite their profound disappointment, these voters made it clear they would not cast their vote for the PPP.
It is obvious that these voters want explanations, assurances and confidence that their voices matter. They also want their spirits to be lifted in the face of the government’s defeat in the court and the PPP’s aggressive advocacy and narratives. This is precisely why the WPA is going to Linden and other communities—to reason with the people and level with them. Part of our political culture is the tendency of supporters not to pressure the government for which they voted. Government leaders in turn read this to mean that they should not be accountable to supporters. Invariably, they don’t realize their error in judgment until it’s too late—when their supporters vote for another party or don’t vote at all.
It is my view that the Coalition runs the risk of becoming the victim of this scenario. That is why I think these WPA “Reasonings” are critical. I feel that that party is best placed to speak to those disaffected voters. Its accumulated credibility is an asset in these crucial times. So many people have stopped me on the streets or in-box me on Facebook or emailed me about their frustrations with the government. Some make it very clear that they just need some public person associated with the Coalition to listen to them vent.
That is why I am going to Linden on Wednesday. I want to hear our people vent and then give us a chance to reason with them about why the government, despite its failings, is still the better choice.
I have gone on record about my optimism regarding a Coalition victory. A young man at the BV meeting pressed me about that optimism —“Dr, Hinds tell me something that sends me home tonight feeling better about our chances, because I am not feeling it.”
It took me about five minutes to reason with him. He didn’t want to hear that we deserve his vote because the Coalition is better than the PPP—he wanted something more substantive. I hope I was able to convince him, but I promised to personally call him within a week. When the meeting was over, almost a dozen attendees told me that my reasoning with the young man brought them back into the fold. There is still a place for honest reasoning with people.
In the meantime, PPP supporters and mouthpieces have taken to politically assassinating me for endorsing the Coalition for a second term. For them, my only motivation could be racial solidarity. The truth of the matter is that the PPP would be happy if the WPA leaves the Coalition or does not campaign for it. The PPP, more so some of our Coalition partners, appreciate the value of the WPA at times like these.
On the other hand, some PNC people have “welcomed” me back to the fold. What welcome back? My criticism of the government was self-criticism aimed at making the Coalition a better vessel. But our political culture frowns on such criticism as betrayal. Some Coalition leaders hate my guts for daring to criticize their government—after all they are the rulers and I am just another underling who must shut up and toe the line. But I promise that to no government. If I can hold to account a government for which I didn’t vote, I have a bigger responsibility to do the same to a government for which I voted. That is non-negotiable.
I am going to Linden on Wednesday. Linden gave the Coalition a victory by a wide margin in 2015 and without Linden we are doomed. So, we are going to Linden to reason.
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